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Mainz, Cologne, Freiburg, Fussen & Munich, oh my!

Mainz, Cologne, Freiburg, Fussen & Munich, oh my!

Old Dec 16th, 2022, 08:49 AM
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Mainz, Cologne, Freiburg, Fussen & Munich, oh my!

My son and I were finally able to take our trip to Germany, originally planned for March 2020! A hidden benefit to postponing the trip was that we flew into Frankfurt and out of Munich, and didn't waste precious time backtracking.
What can I say, it was wonderful! It was a whirlwind, with three nights in Mainz, a day trip to Cologne, three nights in Freiburg, two nights in Fussen, and two nights in Munich. This is not the way I normally travel and was on the verge of being too much for me - but I'm glad we did it the way we did. There's just too much to see and never enough time!
Arrival in Mainz
Flight to Frankfurt was uneventful and we both slept a little. We only brought carry-ons, and we took the train to Mainz and arrived around lunchtime. A friend at the law firm I work with had put me in touch with one of his friends who lives right outside of Mainz, and this very kind and generous friend met us at the train station and took us to lunch at Restaurant Burg Klopp. It was lovely, very good food and a very nice setting after such a long flight. Then he drove us to Burg Reichenstein where we climbed a million steps and saw the most amazing castle!

The inside of the castle was beautiful and I loved that we were seeing such a historic castle!

I really thought I'd taken a picture of the 1,500-2,000 deer trophy heads and other large and wild game, but I guess I didn't. There were A LOT.
Once we'd finished traipsing around the castle, Thomas took us to our apartment rental in Mainz. He really started our trip off on the right foot, and I can't say enough about the kindness and generosity of the German people. We were exhausted, so we sought out a donar kebop for dinner, I soaked in the tub to restore my aching feet, and called it a night fairly early. I'd rented The Apartment on booking.com and although Stefan had promised a future credit back in 2020, he refused to respond to my emails or honor the credit. However, because of the location and existence of two bedrooms, I rebooked (and repaid) for The Apartment and was only a little put-out about it. It is a very nice place to stay, very safe and close to everything.
Next up: A long day trip to Cologne, and a lovely day exploring Mainz!
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Old Dec 16th, 2022, 09:21 AM
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What a nice way to start a trip, Flwrhear. Being met, dined and castled by a "native" couldn't be better. Sign me up for the rest of your trip. Hope you have the credit promise in writing.


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Old Dec 16th, 2022, 10:54 AM
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A whirlwind trip is better than no trip 😎 ……sounds lovely already.
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Old Dec 16th, 2022, 12:03 PM
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It looks like you're off to a great start; I'm eager to read more.
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Old Dec 16th, 2022, 12:04 PM
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I'm on board, Flwrhead, waiting for the next instalment! Isn't it great we are doing trip reports again?!

Lavandula
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Old Dec 19th, 2022, 01:46 PM
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Thanks to all! I'm happy to be taking trips again, and this is my first trip report, actually!

DAY TWO - COLOGNE
The busy pace was maintained as we took the 9:20 am "slow" train to Cologne, scheduled to arrive at 11:05. Believe it or not, we had ANOTHER local who planned to meet us at the train station and walk with us to the Cathedral, the Wallraf-Richarz Museum, and then lunch - but he had an unexpected meeting at work and then our train was late, so he was unable to meet us. We already had our list of must-sees, so we stuck to our plan.
We were about three minutes late catching the train in Mainz and I was so relieved when customer service said it was delayed and we could probably catch it! I had been told to book the "slow" train because it travels along the Rhine and the scenery is wonderful.

It did not disappoint! I honestly got tired of craning my neck to see the quaint towns, the vineyards and the castles.
We arrived in Cologne a little before 12 and immediately sought out more coffee. The Cologne Cathedral - what can I say? Awe-inspiring and crowded but incredible workmanship everywhere you looked, from the stained glass to the murals to the intricately tiled floors.

I was so thrilled that we had great weather!





My love of old doors will never cease.
I really love the smell of church incense! After touring the Cathedral, we were famished so we headed to Brewery Paffgen, the oldest brewery in Cologne. It was a bit of a walk from the Cathedral, but it had been highly recommended by my coworker, so we went. My son (the German speaker) asked for water along with the kolsch and the waiter asked if he'd like soap as well! Apparently that is a big no-no, as the beer IS your water. I had fish and chips and my son had the roasted black pudding, which he ate most of although that was probably the last time he'll order it! He's more adventurous than I; I tasted a tiny bit and that was more than enough for me.

After the people sitting next to us left, the place really emptied out and we saw a tiny mouse run into the darkened room! In a building that old, what do you expect?!?
After lunch we hightailed it back to Farina Duftmuseum where I was only able to secure one ticket on the Historical English speaking tour, but my son wasn't heartbroken as he wanted to visit Museum Ludwig, which he enjoyed very much. To my dismay, Farina did not have a public restroom but directed me to a cafe on the corner. I had the world's quickest glass of wine, visited the loo, and then back to the Farina Museum. The tour was very informative and interesting. Did you know that Napoleon brought their eau de cologne BY THE GALLON for when he traveled to battlefields? I guess it was a pretty stinky world back then, what with no running water and horses and sweaty men fighting. As part of the tour, we were gifted with a tiny bottle of eau de cologne and I wanted to see how it wore on me before buying a larger bottle, so I dabbed myself, met up with my son and we went literally across the street to the Walraff-Richartz Museum.
The Museum was very nice, Rubens, Monet, Renoir, Rembrandt, Durer, Cezanne, all represented. We only had a little over an hour to spend there before closing, but we hit the highlights and were glad we went.
We exited the Museum, rounded the corner and walked straight into a Christmas market!


There we had our first glass of gluhwein, and ran into a group of four American girls who were on the perfume tour with me and chatted with them for awhile. In the excitement, I forgot all about returning to Farina for a bottle of cologne, thinking it would be easy to find outside Cologne. Not so! The Christmas markets were lively and fun, and I bought some cinnamon-sugared almonds. I was trying to decide which type to buy and the vendor asked where I was from. Upon hearing "the U.S." she matter-of-factly said, "you'll want these" and handed me the cinnamon-sugared ones. Maybe she knows Americans have a huge sweet tooth? I couldn't argue with her, as I am guilty as charged. I looked for Schlosskuss, which I'd seen recommended on another board as a Christmas market chocolate confection that was a must-try, but didn't see any. We had sausages with a lot of mustard, another gluhwein (or two?) and then headed back to the train station for our return train at 7:53 pm. A LONG day, to be sure, but the next day was a low key, walk around Mainz and enjoy our local surroundings day, so we would recover somewhat.
More later!

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Old Dec 19th, 2022, 03:12 PM
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I am sure the enemy could smell Napoleon and his men coming, and that's why he was defeated at Waterloo .

The Schlosskuss - I don't know it, could that have been a Schokokuss? (Schaumkuss)? They are really common at Christmas markets. Picture in the link below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocol...hmallow_treats

Lavandula
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Old Dec 19th, 2022, 03:59 PM
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What a great day you had!
Enjoying your report and photos 👍
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Old Dec 20th, 2022, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by lavandula
I am sure the enemy could smell Napoleon and his men coming, and that's why he was defeated at Waterloo .

The Schlosskuss - I don't know it, could that have been a Schokokuss? (Schaumkuss)? They are really common at Christmas markets. Picture in the link below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocol...hmallow_treats

Lavandula
Yes! You're 100% right, it was the Schokokuss (or chocolate kiss, I think)!
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Old Dec 20th, 2022, 01:14 PM
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I am glad you liked Mainz, there is a lot to see and do there, even just soaking up the atmosphere in the Altstadt. Thanks for your tips about Cologne. We will be in Cologne on 13 January. We have rigged it so that we will have the next morning in Cologne also so we will be sure to have time to do some of the things you did as well.

Lavandula
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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 08:02 AM
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DAYS THREE AND FOUR - MAINZ AND FRIEBURG

Day 3 we stayed in Mainz. We went up the street for breakfast at dicke lille, gutes kind (Fat Lilli, Good Child) and it was a REALLY good breakfast (eggs, toast, jam, bacon and salad) with very good coffee and the place was filled with locals, mostly young women with their adorable babies, all bundled up. After breakfast we made our way to St. Stephan' Church to see the blue Chagal windows. There were only a handful of tourists in the place and it was lovely and serene.

Again with the doors!

I cannot think of a more fitting door knob for a church.


I wish pictures could convey the sense of peace.
We then headed toward the Gutenberg Museum, where we saw lots of old printing presses and books and were thankful for the work of early transcribers, artists and printers.

World's toughest word find puzzle.
This was the first day of Mainz's Christmas market, so we headed there next. I bought some bee's wax candles from a tent for gifts, and was very tempted by these amazing booties made from wool - you could still smell the lanolin! - but I decided against and have regretted it ever since. Common sense prevailed (I live in hot, hot Alabama) but sometimes you have to shush common sense.

Fastnachtsbrunnen - a fountain made of 200 bronze figures celebrating the Carnival season. Unfortunately, most of it was blocked by a booth selling gluhwein and this was the best picture I got.

Altstadt Christmas market


I don't know anything about these tiny vehicles but I had to snap a picture!

Lunch!
After lunch, I wimped out and went back to the apartment to rest. I hoped to nap but I just updated my social media and looked for a place for dinner. We ended up eating at Goldener Hirsch, where I had so-so pasta and my son had some kind of beef dish. I don't know why I ordered pasta, probably because I'd hit my head on the fireplace mantel when I sat down at the table directly underneath it! Such a klutz.

The wine, of course, was wonderful. (A Silvaner)
After dinner, I was tired and went back to the apartment to rest while my son went back to the Christmas market but returned shortly. I had an easier time adjusting to the time change than he did and we were both feeling jet lagged.
The next morning, we slept in, stopped for a quick coffee and then caught our midday train to Freiburg. Five minutes from the train station was our hotel, Hotel Minerva. I'd read a recommendation for Hotel Minerva on a trip report and we just loved it. They had been booked in 2020 as well and issued a voucher for the initial reservation so this stay cost a whopping 9 euros! (Someone asked earlier about having the offered credit in writing from The Apartment in Mainz and I did have it in a text message, but if they refuse to communicate with you, how does one hold them to their word?)

This was the view from my bedroom window
We checked in, walked around town, did a tiny bit of shopping and had a fairly early dinner at Großer Meyerhof. Even eating early, there was a wait but it was worth it. I believe it had been recommended on Fodors as well.

We both had roast beef in creamy horseradish sauce with cranberries and the potatoes had a mild curry flavor to them, it was delicious!
And then we returned to Hotel Minerva for another early evening and to try to catch up on sleep. We could tell already that we were going to really like Freiburg!
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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 10:57 AM
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This sounds like my kind of holiday!
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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 11:05 AM
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I'm so looking forward to your Freiburg impressions! My family is from the mountains outside of that beautiful city and I have strong connections to the area. I hope you were able to enjoy the Munsterplatz market and sample some the Spatburgunder which the region is known for...
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 07:04 AM
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Enjoying your report. You probably got that recommendation for Hotel Minerva from one of my trip reports - we've stayed there twice and loved it, especially the fabulous breakfast. Fodorite Ingo recommended it to us. Good to hear it's still a good option.
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 08:29 AM
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was the Sylvaner a Baden wine or a Wurtemburg wine?
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Old Dec 27th, 2022, 02:35 PM
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Still following, love your photos!

Lavandula
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by nylilly
I'm so looking forward to your Freiburg impressions! My family is from the mountains outside of that beautiful city and I have strong connections to the area. I hope you were able to enjoy the Munsterplatz market and sample some the Spatburgunder which the region is known for...
Thank you Lily! We did not have any Spatburgunder, which is a shame! I can't imagine being from that area, it is so beautiful!
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8
Enjoying your report. You probably got that recommendation for Hotel Minerva from one of my trip reports - we've stayed there twice and loved it, especially the fabulous breakfast. Fodorite Ingo recommended it to us. Good to hear it's still a good option.
You're 100% right, Mel! I learned so much from your trip report with your niece and the GroBer Meyerhof recommendation may have come from you as well?
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
was the Sylvaner a Baden wine or a Wurtemburg wine?
I took photo of the wine listing from the menu so I could remember! It was Weingut Bohler Rheinhessen.
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 08:33 AM
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DAY FIVE - FREIBURG
Day Five began with a wonderful breakfast at Hotel Minerva. Eggs cooked to order, cappuccino, mango juice. Excellent.

After breakfast we strolled around Freiburg, looking at the shop windows and making our way to the Munsterplatz, where DS had more coffee and I had an excellent ginger tea at SamS Cafe.

I returned to this street the next day to visit the wool shop as I'm a knitter and yarn is typically small and squishable and thus, easy to pack!


People for scale!



The weather was chilly but not raining, there was a church choir singing, and sitting outside at the cafe, people watching and sipping my tea - one of my favorite moments of the trip. I stopped at one of the booths and bought a packet of Springerle cookies. My grandmother used to make similar cookies (without the fancy designs) that she called Hartzhorn cookies (they required a leavening agent called Hartzhorn that we bought from a drugstore in Owensboro, Kentucky but now we use baker's ammonia) and flavored with anise flavoring. I knew these were similar, but (sorry, Grandma) they blew the Hartzhorn cookies away! These were actually flavored with anise seeds and the flavor was very subtle, which is good if you don't like that strong licorice flavor. I wish I'd bought more!
Then we visited the Museum of Natur und Mensch, which was neat and interesting, albeit geared towards younger visitors. I enjoyed seeing animals local to the area (stuffed), especially the lynx and ermine. We walked around the city some more, stopping in Gmeiner for some gifts and to marvel at the goodies.

These little dough boys were so cute! And yummy.

We had a late lunch at (another) donor kebab place, which was pretty good. I had booked us tickets on the bus to Ravenna Gorge that evening, so we went back to the hotel for a brief rest and then left to catch the bus. I had marked the address in Google maps and knew it was by the train station, but didn't know exactly where to go. As it was, we BARELY made the bus. My son found a seat, and I sat in the very front in a seat that swiveled out from and hugged the dashboard and I'm not exaggerating. But! It ended up being a good thing because on the drive, I actually saw this:

I was so excited! I'd read about the bronze stag but wasn't sure exactly where it was. One of those happy surprises!

Standing in line for gluhwein, admiring the huge mistletoe balls and the changing lights!


These cherry hats were everywhere! lol

The inn that hosted Marie Antoinette as she traveled to Versailles to marry Louis XVI
All in all, I think the Ravenna Gorge Weihnachtsmarkt was very nice, quaint and a good little side trip. I'd explored several options for day trips from Freiburg, but our time there was so short that I'm glad I saved those for another trip. My son had a venison "hot dog" and I skipped dinner that night. We kept smelling the most terrible smell and determined it was kasse spaetzle. I'm sure it tastes delicious, but that smell! Oof!
After we returned to Freiburg, we turned in for the night, determined to get up and out early the next day.

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